Pope Francis' meeting last week with an American woman at the center of a row over gay marriage was not something he had sought and should not be seen as an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said on Friday.
One Vatican official said there was "a sense of regret" that the pope had ever seen Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who went to jail in September for refusing to honor a U.S. Supreme Court ruling and issue same-sex marriage licenses.
The encounter in Washington was originally kept secret and has sparked widespread debate since it became public this week, proving something of a misstep for the pontiff.
Looking to smother the fierce controversy, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Davis was one of "several dozen" people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see Francis during his visit to the U.S. capital.
"The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects," Lombardi said in a statement.
That sort of falls in line with some of the other recent reporting indicating that the Pope may have been tricked into meeting Davis, and that she was just a person among many to have a face to face with the Pope but that it was by no means an endorsement of her position.
Since I thought that overall the Pope's visit to America was very positive, I would like to believe that the Pope simply did not know who this person was, or understand how this interaction would be interpreted.
However I would hope that there was some disciplinary action taken on whoever set this thing up and gave the okay for it to happen in the first place.